Throughout the week I receive a variety of emails that relate to sewing projects. As of late it seems that more and more creative people are posting all their projects with the time in which the project will take. In some cases I am a little curious as to whether their clock stopped working mid-way through their project, or if in fact it only took them 15 minutes.
Personally, it is rare that a sewing project will take me fifteen minutes from start to finish. Maybe a set of beanbags, some Cat Nip bags, or a simple fleece cap could be done in fifteen minutes, but not a skirt. Even a simple skirt takes more than fifteen minutes from start to finish.
The claim that something may only take fifteen minutes negates the effort you actually take from start to finish. This type of promotion leads clients to request custom work, expecting a Wal-Mart price and immediate turn-around from experienced seamstresses. When a custom seamstress provides them an estimate, that potential client is shocked at the cost, claiming that it is too expensive for something that should only take fifteen minutes.
I learned early on in my seamstress business that I would encounter many who had the notion that a seamstress was one who had nothing better to do than to whip something up on a whim. So yesterday when I received an email from a source that promotes projects that others have shared, with the claim that this particular skirt would only take fifteen minutes to complete, I was drawn in to the temptation to check it out.
Definitely a simple skirt, for young girls, that could be completed within an afternoon. But to claim fifteen minutes is not necessarily a fair or true statement. It took me less than five minutes to read through her instructions. The skirt had the main skirt pattern concept, that also recommended the amount needed to have extra for the rolled hemmed casing. The second piece was for the contrasting fabric for the hem. While the third piece was to add ties in order to make a pretty contrasting bow in front.
So, to make this skirt for a young girl, I would have to measure her waist, length to knee (or length one wanted), calculate in the added seam allowances, waste band allowance, etc. Consider the width of the contrasting hem, and prepare a pattern for both as well as the ties to be added within the seams of the skirt.
I was never taught to “rush” through just to get a project done. Even students I have taught, I would emphasize that they take their time. Even a well-made skirt should take some time to be sure it is made well.
- Time to shop for fabric (including travel to/from the store) or even if you are shuffling through your stash.
- Notion selection (elastic for the waist and thread) which can be combined in with the shopping time.
- Planning/prepping your pattern. Even a store bought pattern needs to be cut from the huge sheet of pattern paper before placing onto your fabric.
- Preparing your fabric by washing, drying and ironing (this alone takes more than 15 minutes).
- Cutting the fabric out
- Putting pieces together to begin sewing.
- Preparing the side ties, which means sewing, turning, pressing & placement.
- In this particular project, one needs to know how to place those side ties, which doesn’t take much time, but does require one to be cautious of even placement on each side while still allowing the appropriate amount of fabric for the elastic casing.
- Always pressing seams after each set of seams are complete, before continuing on to the next process.
- Pin and stitch the contrasting hem to the main skirt
- Hemming (for me this could possibly take fifteen minutes, for a small-framed girl, if I choose the machine stitch hem. I always plan and pin in place my hem allowance before stitching).
- One final press to make sure everything is done well.
Depending on whether the fabric is provided washed and pressed, pattern prepared, it is possible, depending on the skill of the person sewing, to complete this project within a few hours, but in all honesty, not fifteen minutes.
Maybe I am a perfectionist, yet I am okay with that, because when I am done with a project, I feel like my work was well done. Despite the level of anyone sewing, sewing is a craft, a skill and a work-in-progress as we continue to learn and develop.
I do not mean to insult those who are posting DIY sewing projects as I find many to be inspiring and well done. Yet, when we post our projects on line to share with others “how to”, we should share, as a recipe does, preparation time along with actual construction time from the moment we start cutting to the last press.
NOTE (1): If you are a home seamstress creating for your family, do not be discouraged if you are unable to complete a project in the time others might share. Everyone’s skill level is different.
(2) The consumer looking for a custom seamstress. Be considerate when requesting work. If you want quality custom work, the work will always be more than what you can acquire off the rack at the store.
(3) The professional seamstress: Be aware of all your costs before quoting.